The US has said that it did not seek death penalty for David Coleman Headley because of his “willingness to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities – American, Indian and others – to help bring the perpetrators [of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks] to justice and prevent other terrorist attacks”.
An official statement issued by the American embassy in New Delhi said the 35-year sentence without parole imposed on Headley marks another step in the US’s efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. This sentence reflects both severe punishment for Headley’s role in the 26/11 crimes and a decision by the US Department of Justice not to seek the death penalty.
Elaborating further, it said: Headley provided information that was of substantial value in our efforts to combat international terrorism and to save lives:
• Headley testified against a co-conspirator, Tahawwur Rana, who is now serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison.
• Headley provided extensive detail about accused terrorist leader Ilyas Kashmiri and his network. Ilyas Kashmiri was indicted in 2009.
• Headley answered questions from Indian law enforcement.
• Headley assisted US investigators in bringing criminal charges against five other terrorists.
• Headley provided US law enforcement authorities with extensive detail about the structure, personnel, methods, abilities and plans of the terrorist organization, Lashkar e Tayyiba.
The statement said the United States and India counter-terrorism cooperation is stronger than ever. “The FBI provided its expertise and testified in the Indian prosecution of Ajmal Kasab. We are working together to see that those responsible for 26/11 and other acts of terrorism are brought to justice, wherever they may be,” it added.